A creature from the deep, multitasking, a trip to the powerhouse and The Wall (part 1) feature at Mawson this week

The Wall (part 1)

One of the projects we have this winter is to construct a new climbing wall in the ambient area of the Green Store and when we got started the first task was to move the existing racking system over to allow room for the wall and also give the forklift clear access to the shelving. This was a big job as it meant removing everything from the shelves so they could be shifted into their new position, but on the other hand all of the material and equipment that had been stored up there was sorted out and restacked taking up much less space than before as well as being recorded in an inventory list to make finding things a little easier. Next thing was to gather up all of the components for the wall and get them together in the Green Store. All of this was done by John our FTO who may be leaning towards a career as a storeman and Cliff our waste management officer who umm, ah, well just talks rubbish!

Once we had all of the material on hand we set about sorting out all of the bits and pieces and come up with a plan of attack on how we would put this thing up, so off we went (after doing a quick take 5 of course) and the wall had started.

First off, we set out the position of the wall and floor brackets. The floor brackets needed no modifications and they were dynabolted to the floor. Next came the wall brackets, they had to be cut to length and drilled on site as were the wall girts they were to be fixed on to, so both the brackets and the girts were drilled to suit and then loosely bolted into position. After all of the wall brackets had been bolted onto the girts it was time to stand the vertical members (PFC’s). These were bolted to the wall brackets and are the members of the framework that the fibreglass wall panels are attached to.

This is the stage we are up to with the wall at the moment. Hopefully we will get a good run and have the wall finished soon (B4V4). As for Cliff, not only does he drive us all up the wall he’s helping build it! Stay tuned for THE WALL (Part 2) coming sooner or later.

A trip to the powerhouse

To me the main power house, or MPH as it is commonly referred to, is a critical part of life down here. Without it the winter would be long and very cold. Regular maintenance and observations are conducted by the diesel mechanics and electricians to help keep it running smoothly. Checks are done every 12 hours and are taken in turn by each person doing one week every four. The time between these checks has increased over the years with the upgrading of equipment and improved reliability as at one stage they were conducted every three to four hours.

There are stories from previous years when the reliability was not so great and some people spent most of their time in the MPH restarting the generators so often that they would spend the night there rather than walk back to the sleeping quarters. I am so glad this is no longer the case. We so far have had a good run and nothing to major has happened although Mawson is a little different from the other stations as most of our power is produced by wind turbines and the diesel generators are used mainly when there is insufficient wind and this doesn’t happen too much.

With a smile, Trent

Creatures from the deep

On recent Sunday walks around Mawson station sea ice recreation areas, I have come across some interesting sea creatures. At this time of year when it’s dark most of the time and all the animals have long ago deserted us, seeing any sort of life form either dead or alive is a novelty.

The first one, I am not even sure if it’s plant or animal or even if it’s part of an animal or was once inside an animal? I estimated it to be at least eight metres long but it could be much longer as it disappeared into the sea ice. It was long and skinny like a snake, yellow / tan in colour with a rough texture.

The other item is a type of sea worm. Near the station there was a large ice fall from the plateau which smashed up some of the sea ice and rolled over some ice bergs exposing their underside. On some of the smaller bergy bits I was surprised to see many sea worms attached to what would have been the underside of the berg now frozen solid. They were mostly about 25mm in length, tan in colour and with around 40 legs on both sides and you can clearly see their four eyes on their head.

I have had no luck so far in trying to identify each item so if you know what they are I would very much like to know. Who knows, maybe I have stumbled across some new species?

Feedback from the science gurus: it is a nephtyid polychaete. They are predatory worms that roam the seabed preying on other small invertebrates. They are quite large for a polychaete worm and fairly common, circum-antarctic. There are several species, but you need a microscope to tell them apart.